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Moneyball, meet politics: Could VAR settle arguments about candidate strength?
Vote Above Replacement puts Klobuchar atop presidential field, Collins way above other senators

Maine Republican Susan Collins, center, outranks the entire Senate on Inside Elections’ Vote Above Replacement statistic, while Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, right, ranks highest among Democratic presidential contenders. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

In the era of data and metrics and models in political analysis, at least one question still remains: How do we quantify the strength of individual candidates?

Arguing over whether a candidate or incumbent is good or bad is an age-old tradition in the political media and among party operatives. Typically, candidate strength is measured by fundraising or the margin of a win or loss. But that can fail to account for the particular election cycle or the possibility that any candidate running on a particular party’s line in a particular year or state would do just as well.

Rating change: King retirement weakens GOP hold on New York seat
Long Island district is suburban, but differs from places that swung to Democrats in 2018

Rep. Peter T. King’s decision to retire makes his New York seat more vulnerable for Republicans. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Years of predictions finally came true Monday as New York Republican Peter T. King announced he will not seek reelection in the 2nd District. His decision leaves behind another competitive open seat in the suburbs for the GOP to defend.

In 2016, President Donald Trump carried the southern Long Island district by a significant margin, 53 percent to 44 percent, but the longtime congressman’s narrow 6-point margin of victory last fall is fueling Democratic optimism, particularly now that he is not running.

Lessons from Kentucky, Mississippi and Virginia elections may not be what you think
Results from 2019 offer some clues about what may work and not work in 2020

President Donald Trump rallied with Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin the night before Bevin’s loss, but that doesn’t mean Trump hurt him. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

ANALYSIS — Voters in Kentucky, Mississippi, and Virginia were gracious enough to go to the polls on Tuesday and give us some tangible results to chew over with 12 months to go before the 2020 elections. Here are some thoughts.

Kentucky was not an upset. Inside Elections changed its rating on the governor’s race from Lean Republican to Toss-up in mid July after finding Gov. Matt Bevin very vulnerable. So those who were surprised by Democrat Andy Beshear’s declared victory weren’t paying close enough attention.

A year out, here's four scenarios for 2020 elections
How voters feel about economy, impeachment will decide which party rules in 2021

Sign from a rally in September staged by a coalition of progressive activist groups, including MoveOn.org, at the Capitol. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

After Donald Trump’s surprise victory in 2016, there’s a saturating fear of projecting elections. Nearly three years into his presidency, and with one year left in his first term, there are multiple potential outcomes for the 2020 elections. But the scenarios aren’t created equal and don’t have the same chance of taking place, and they will have a profound impact on policy in the future.

Even though predicting anything to do with Trump might seem like a risk because of how typically damaging stories don’t seem to impact his standing, the president is a historically unpopular figure whose job approval rating has been static for months. More voters have disapproved than approved of his job performance since about a week after he was inaugurated, according to the Real Clear Politics polling average, and his approval rating has been between 41 and 44 percent for most of the past year and a half.

Indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter fails to get local GOP endorsement in crowded primary
Six-term California Republican has secured San Diego GOP’s primary endorsement in all of his prior elections

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., faces a tough “top-two” primary field that includes at least three other well-known GOP candidates. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Federally indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter failed to earn the endorsement of his local Republican Party on Monday despite representing San Diego County in the House for more than 10 years.

It was the first time the six-term GOP congressman from California’s 50th District has failed to capture the endorsement.

Ratings change: GOP Senate chances improve in Georgia, decline in NC, Iowa
Despite signs of Georgia getting bluer, Democrats have not recruited strong Senate candidates

Democrats are struggling to find a top-tier candidate to take on Republican Georgia Sen. David Perdue. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Nearly a year before the 2020 elections, the Senate battlefield continues to take shape. Even though the executive and legislative branches are different but coequal branches of government, their fates are electorally tied together this cycle.

Democrats’ chances of controlling the Senate next Congress dramatically increase with a White House victory because the vice president would act as a tiebreaker, lowering the number of GOP seats the party has to take over. And the party that controls the Senate will determine the success and effectiveness of a new Democratic president or President Donald Trump in his second term.

Impeachment looms large in House Democrats’ town halls over recess
Vulnerable freshmen face protests as safe-district incumbents explain process, Trump's offenses

Rep. Max Rose was one of the last Democrats to endorse the Trump impeachment inquiry. (Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump has been a central concern at town halls for House Democrats across the country, with both safe and vulnerable members of the caucus fielding questions from Trump’s defenders and voters who want him removed from office.

While recent polls suggest that support for impeaching the president has grown over the last three months — 58 percent of respondents to a Washington Post/Schar School poll this week approved of the House’s decision to launch an inquiry — Democrats have used feedback at town halls over the two-week October recess to assess how their constituents feel about the matter.

2020 strategy: If you can’t beat ’em — move
Pete Sessions becomes third Republican ex-member to try comeback in different district

Former Texas Rep. Pete Sessions is one of three Republicans making comeback bids to the House from a different district. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Texas Rep. Pete Sessions on Thursday became the third former Republican congressman to announce a 2020 comeback bid in a different district from the one he previously served, joining Darrell Issa of California and Bobby Schilling, who once represented Illinois and now is running in Iowa. 

Sessions represented suburban Dallas for 22 years, but lost his bid for a 12th term in Texas’ 32nd District to Democrat Colin Allred by nearly 7 points last November.

Trump ally Claudia Tenney seeking old seat against Rep. Anthony Brindisi
Former GOP member from NY lost by less than 5,000 votes in 2018 midterms

Former Rep. Claudia Tenney, R-N.Y, announced Tuesday she will run for her old seat in New York's 22nd District. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Claudia Tenney, one of President Donald Trump’s most vocal supporters last Congress, announced Tuesday she will run for her old seat in New York’s 22nd District.

Tenney lost by less than 2 percentage points in the 2018 midterms to Democratic Rep. Anthony Brindisi despite running one of the most pro-Trump campaigns of any vulnerable House Republican.

Rating change: Upstate New York race less vulnerable for GOP with Collins resignation
Without indicted incumbent in 27th District, Democratic takeover looks unlikely, but ballot questions remain

New York Rep. Chris Collins submitted his resignation Monday, a day before a hearing to change his plea of not guilty to insider trading charges.(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Not all House departures are created equal. New York Rep. Chris Collins’ resignation should make it easier for Republicans to hold his Buffalo-area sea because the GOP should have a nominee without legal problems. But New York’s multiple ballot lines could complicate the special election to replace the congressman, as they have in past contests.

Collins, who was reelected last year proclaiming his innocence on charges of insider trading, submitted his resignation Monday, a day before he is expected to change his not guilty plea.